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Blindsight in Monkeys, Lost and (perhaps) Found

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The study of blindsight might contribute to general investigations into animal consciousness. Perhaps whether there is something that it is like to be a given animal perceiving visually depends on whether it exhibits the neurological and behavioral profile of conscious vision versus that of non-conscious 'natural blindsight'. However, a difficulty for this proposal is that it is hard to see how an animal can non-verbally indicate whether or not it is perceiving consciously. Interestingly, it has become routine to claim that the work of Stoerig and Cowey shows that monkeys with lesions in the primary visual cortex have blindsight. However, Mole and Kelly argue that this conclusion is unwarranted because the evidence is compatible with an alternative hypothesis positing only a deficit in attention and perceptual working memory, and not conscious awareness. I describe a revised experimental paradigm that can distinguish between these hypotheses. I also offer reasons for thinking that the blindsight hypothesis will prevail.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Philosophy Department, Florida International University, Miami, FL, DM343, 33199, USA, Email:

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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